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Adventures in Akadia

Chapter 15

What do you give a Quotidian?


     Bright and early the next morning, the kids quickly got themselves ready, their faces beaming with anticipation for another day of fun on the river. They gathered by the boat, eagerly awaiting the next chapter of their thrilling adventure. As they were recounting the events from the day before, they heard Wink’s familiar voice come from behind them.

     “Mornin kiddos,” he said cheerfully. 

     The kids turned to return the greeting. Before they could speak, they noticed that Wink was all packed with his walking stick in hand, just as he had been at the beginning of their journey. A smile lit up Wink's face, yet a touch of sadness lingered in his eyes. The kids were curious why he looked as if he were ready to go on another hike.

     “What’s wrong, Wink?” Elizabeth asked.

     “Nothin’ wrong,” Wink paused, “But there be somethin’ to tell you.”

     Wink had the kids' attention as their heart rates picked up a little.

     Wink let out a sigh and said, “You learn everythin’ you need from me. I be goin’ home now”.

     Their hearts sank to their stomach and they immediately tried to change his mind.

     “No!” Elizabeth protested, “Stay with us.”

     “Did we do something wrong?” Jamari asked, “We don’t want you to go.”

     “Wink, we want you to stay with us,” Gabriela added.

     Even Lukas made his opinion known, “Wink, we need your help."

     After allowing this to go on for a few more moments, Wink held up his hand, signaling them to settle and listen.

     In a gentle voice, Wink explained, “You do nothin’ wrong. It jus’ be time for you kiddos to be learnin’ from Rosy.”

     The kids sat in silence, now noticing the pattern in Akadia – having a guide for a portion of their journey before moving on to someone else. Though it took a moment, the kids were able to accept what Wink had explained. The initial disbelief had now turned into a somber feeling as they contemplated the journey ahead without him.

     The sadness was clear on their faces, some of them with tears beginning to well up in their eyes.

     Gabriela stepped forward and stooped down to give Wink a hug.

     “Thank you, Wink,” she said.

     Elizabeth followed and added, “Thanks for everything, Wink.”

     “Are you leaving right now?” Jamari asked.

     “After mornin’ munchy,” Wink replied.

     As the group made their way back to the campfire where breakfast was being prepared, Elizabeth attempted to grab the attention of the other kids without Wink noticing. She tapped their shoulders and jolted her head sideways, motioning for them to follow her. Wink continued on to talk with Rosy as the kids gathered out of their earshot. 

     Elizabeth brought the group in close and whispered, "We should give Wink something."

     Somewhat confused, Jamari asked, “What do you mean? Like a present?”

     Elizabeth nodded excitedly, “Yeah!” 

     The others loved the idea, and their minds raced with thoughts of what they could give Wink. However, they quickly realized their current limitations. It wasn’t like Akadia had a gift shop or a toy store. They also didn’t have any sort of crafting material to make a homemade gift. Their excitement quickly turned into discouragement as they realized how limited their options were.

     The kids sat in a circle and put their heads together, thinking hard about what they could give Wink. As they each shared ideas, none of them felt quite right.

     “We could find him a really pretty rock,” Elizabeth suggested.

     “How about we make him a bouquet,” Gabriela added.

     Jokingly, Jamari asked, “Do you think he would like one of my old socks?” 

     The kids laughed together but quickly brought their attention back to thinking about their options. 

     “What do you give a Quotidian?” Gabriela pondered out loud.

     Suddenly, a smile spread across Lukas' face, "I have an idea, but it's a bit of a long shot." 

     Lukas stood up and, while patting the dust off his pants, said, “follow me.”

     Lukas led the others toward Rosy and he asked, “Is it okay if we go explore the forest for minute?”

     Rosy smiled and replied, “Okeekay, but be quickee. Munchy almos’ ready.”

     The group ran together into the forest. Once there, the other kids wanted to know what Lukas had in mind.

     “Okay Lukas, what's your idea?” Gabriela asked.

     Already looking around, Lukas realized he hadn’t yet told the group his idea, “Oh, yeah. So, um, I was thinking about the other day when Wink was telling us about the big bluey. You know, the bird that lays the big blue eggs in the forest?”

     The others nodded, hoping he wasn’t about to suggest that they try and catch a large bird for Wink. 

     Lukas continued, “Well, birds drop their feathers all the time. I was thinking we could try and find Wink a big bluey feather.”

     The others considered the idea. As they imagined what a big bluey feather might look like, they realized how excited they would be to find one for themselves. A surge of excitement came over them as they thought about the possibility of finding one for Wink. 

     Eagerly, they scattered in all directions However, after a couple of minutes of not finding anything, they remembered that Rosy had asked them not to take too long. The kids, now even more motivated and focused, tried for a few more moments. But still, no feather.

     Gabriela spoke up, “It’s a great idea Lukas, but I don’t think we’re going to find it.”

     With a look of disappointment on his face, Lukas nodded.

     With sunken shoulders, the kids slowly trudged back to camp, a tinge of sadness lingering as they realized they hadn't been able to come up with anything to give Wink.

     A few paces from the forest exit, the kids’ attention was drawn to the sunrise sending warm beams of light through the breaks in the trees. As they looked up in awe, a glittering object caught their attention in a nearby tree. 

     "What's that?" Elizabeth asked, pointing it out to the others. 

     As they drew closer and shifted their perspective, the shimmering object revealed itself in a beautiful shade of blue. Standing directly below, they now recognized the glittering item for what it truly was—a feather caught in the branches above. 

     The kids stood in disbelief—they had found a big bluey feather. Excitement washed over them and they immediately began thinking of how they might retrieve the feather from the trees. 

     "Here, let me try," Jamari volunteered as he backed up. Taking a few steps to load up a jump, he leapt for the feather. While his attempt was impressive, he wasn’t able to reach it.

     Jamari stepped back to join the group and they continued to ponder how they might retrieve the feather. Worried that they might hurt it, they decided not to try throwing anything at it or poking it out with a long stick.

     Jamari's face lit up as he said, "I've got an idea!" 

     He dashed toward camp and the others followed. Reaching the forest edge, the camp and Quotidians came back into view. 

     "Hey Penpen!" Jamari shouted, surprising Penpen, who looked over in curiosity.

     "Can you guys come help us with something?" Jamari called out. 

     With eager enthusiasm, Penpen, Magoo, Sunny, and Rooby dropped what they were doing and ran happily toward the kids. Curious as to what was going on, Rosy and Wink started to follow until Jamari clarified, "Oh sorry, not you guys, just the kids."

     Rosy and Wink immediately halted. They turned toward each other, shrugged their shoulders, exchanged bemused smiles, and went back to the final preparations for breakfast.

     Jamari led the young Quotidians back to the spot where the feather was stuck in the branches above. He pointed it out to the Quotidians and asked, “Do you see that?” 

     Their eyes widened in amazement and Rooby asked, “Is tha’ from big bluey?”

     “We think so,” Jamari responded.

     “I never see one before,” Magoo said in disbelief.

     Jamari continued, “We wanted to give it to Wink but we aren’t able to reach it. I was thinking about how you guys play bubbly ball and how you climb on top of each other to reach a ball when it's really high. Do you think you can do that with the feather?” 

     The Quotidians gave a thoughtful look at the feather. They knew they could, but they were short a number of Quotidians.

     “We can do, but we need more Quotidis,” Penpen said.

     Jamari smiled and asked, “How about I be one of your Quotidians?” 

     The Quotidians laughed from their bellies and Magoo replied, “You giant Quotidi, Jammy!” 

     Jamari motioned his hands toward him and encouraged, “Come on, we can do it! I’ll be at the bottom and you can all climb on top of me.”

     The Quotidians looked back and forth between the feather and Jamari until Penpen responded, “That could work.”

     Without wasting a moment, Penpen leapt up onto Jamari's shoulders and skillfully maneuvered himself to the top of his head. 

     Once he was stable, Penpen called down, "Okeekay, Magoo, you next." 

     Magoo crouched down and leapt even higher, landing straight on Penpen's shoulders. Rooby, knowing she was next, made her move. She first leapt up to the top of Lukas' head, using it as a springboard to reach Magoo's shoulders.

     With the tower of Jamari and Quotidians slightly tilting back and forth, Penpen declared, "Okeekay, Sunny, you the top." 

     Looking somewhat nervous, Sunny tentatively walked up to begin her climb. 

     "Do you want help?" Gabriela asked, stepping forward. Sunny nodded, and Gabriela picked her up, holding her as high as she could next to the others. From there, Sunny was able to make the leap onto Rooby's shoulders.

     The tower rocked back and forth as Sunny prepared herself for the final leap toward the feather. 

"You can do it!" Elizabeth cheered. 

     Once Jamari and the other Quotidians stabilized the tower, Sunny positioned herself to stand on Rooby's shoulders. With a graceful spring, she reached and grasped the end of the feather. The feather seemed to be providing some resistance and allowed her to float gracefully back toward the ground.

     The group erupted into cheers and quickly gathered around Sunny to get a closer look of the feather. It was a deep, dazzling blue that sparkled and shimmered like nothing they had ever seen before. As Sunny moved the feather around, it caught a beam of sunlight, making it shine even brighter. 

     “It’s beautiful.” Elizabeth said in a hushed voice.

     “Wink’s gonna love it!” Gabriela said excitedly.

     The group made their way back to camp, joyfully talking back and forth. As they emerged from the forest, they hushed their lively chatter, not wanting to give anything away. Sunny discreetly handed the feather to Lukas, who hid it behind his back. The others distracted Wink and Rosy as Lukas hid the feather behind his bag and out of view.

     They all enjoyed a delicious breakfast together, the conflicting emotions evident among the kids. While they were all excited to give Wink their gift, they really didn’t want to see him go.

     When everyone had finished and breakfast was cleared, Wink said, “Okeekay, I best be startin’ for home.”

     The kids realized they hadn’t really planned out this moment. They silently debated who they wanted to do the talking. 

     Gabriela finally stepped forward and said, “Wink, before you go, we have something we want to give you.”

     Surprised, Wink responded, “For me? Oh, you no need do that.”

     “We wanted to!” Elizabeth insisted, “Go get it, Lukas!” 

     Lukas moved quickly to his pack and retrieved the feather. In the open sunlight, the feather shimmered even brighter than before. Wink and Rosy gasped in amazement.

     “That from big bluey!” Wink exclaimed, his eyes wide with wonder, “Oh, kiddos, that's so nice!”

     He carefully reached out as Lukas handed him the feather. Wink held it up for a closer look, ensuring Rosy could appreciate its beauty too.

     Rosy looked toward Wink and put a hand on his back, “I have idea.”

     She waddled down to the boat and grabbed a strand of twine. She then retrieved Wink’s walking stick that had been propped up against a rock.

     Sensing what Rosy had in mind, and already loving the idea, Wink handed Rosy the feather as she approached. She gingerly used the twine to tie the feather to the top of his walking stick. Looking it over, she gave it a nod and then presented it to Wink.

     “It perfect,” Wink said emotionally, “now I always have somethin’ to remind me of the kiddos.” 

     This statement, and the way Wink said it, made the kids emotional as well. With his walking stick in hand, Wink stood in front of the kids and uttered, "Goodbye, my brave kiddos."

     Kneeling down, the kids surrounded Wink, sharing heartfelt hugs. As they released the embrace, they noticed Wink's watery eyes. 

     Offering a final encouragement, he said, "You will be great, kiddos!"

     Wink took a step back, wiped his eyes, and brought a smile back to his face as he looked over the kids one more time. He then turned around and commenced his journey up the river.

     The children stood, silently watching Wink until he, and the shimmering feather atop his stick, eventually disappeared from view. 

     Rosy gave the children a moment, sensing their mixed emotions, before saying, "Alright, let’s get back on the river. Big journey ahead."

     Everyone loaded back onto the boat, finding their familiar spots from the day before. As they got themselves into position, there were a few audible sniffles still coming from the children. Rosy, just as before, skillfully launched the boat and leapt into the back, ready to guide them through the next phase of their adventure.

     The ride on the river was much gentler than the day before. The river flowed swiftly and easily, helping them make good distance in a short amount of time. After only an hour or so, the river opened up into what appeared to be an expansive ocean.

     As the children examined their new surroundings, they turned to their right and caught a glimpse of what was unmistakably the "golden shore". The long, sandy shoreline sparkled in the sunlight, igniting a rush of excitement for the imminent reunion with Aurelia. Their anticipation grew, but the boat continued forward into the open water. At first, the kids stayed silent, reassuring themselves that, at any moment, Rosy would steer the boat to the shore. However, as minutes passed, Rosy continued to guide the boat forward.

     Unable to contain himself, Lukas, who had memorized the map of Akadia, turned to Rosy, "Where are we going? The golden shore is back there."

     "We be stoppin' somewhere first," Rosy responded without making eye contact.

     None of the kids liked the sound of this, and each turned to Rosy to protest.

     "But we're supposed to be meeting Aurelia! We're going the wrong way!" Elizabeth exclaimed.

     "This is the opposite direction of our challenges," Jamari added. 

     Rosy maintained course and repeated, "We have somewhere we need to be stoppin' first."

     Exasperated and knowing it was no use to aruge, each of the children faced forward again. Out in the distance, their eyes could make out what looked like a small island.

     Gabriela spoke up, having a hint of concern in her voice, “Rosy, what is that place?”

     Rosy finally looked down to the children as she responded, “That be the nex' lesson.”

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